The major question I had walking into my demo of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 was: Is it possible to feel an emotional attachment to a character we've already said goodbye to? In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, players will be asked to do just that. Although the game's lead character Starkiller -- or Galen Marek, according to Star Wars novels -- sacrificed himself during the true ending of the previous title, the character returns as the playable character in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2.
During my E3 2010 hands-off preview of the upcoming sequel to the "fastest selling" Star Wars title of all time, executive producer Haden Blackman walked us through the game's opening, which follows a mentally-torn Starkiller as he attempts to escape from his former mentor, Darth Vader.
Falling from this area, Starkiller can toss his sabers -- yes, you can dual-wield them now -- or use force push to destroy geometry that gets in his way. From the outset, the character is a powerful beast; however, Starkiller can still upgrade his abilities to dish out more powerful attacks. All of Starkiller's original force powers return; however, Blackman says each has been redesigned "from the ground, up."
The newest ability in Starkiller's repertoire is the classic film power, the Jedi Mind Trick. Using it will enable Starkiller to turn enemies against each other and even get them to leap to their death. Adding a second lightsaber also vastly changes the game's combat, Blackman says. "They're faster and have more area of effect attacks," he tells us as Starkiller mows down half-a-dozen on-screen enemies.
Another feature added to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is the Force Fury mode. As Starkiller defeats enemies, solves puzzles and completes mission objectives he'll gain "force fury." When triggered, the feature "takes your powers to the next level." As Blackman explains it, "If force push hits an enemy like a cannonball, in force fury mode it really sends them out into orbit."
As was revealed in the E3 trailer for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, one of Starkiller's major motivations in the game will be discovering whether or not he is a clone. According to Blackman, the biggest motivation for the force-fueled behemoth is reuniting with his love interest from the previous game, Imperial pilot Juno Eclipse.
Following his escape from the clutches of Darth Vader, Starkiller is very much a man on the run. Blackman explains that his new status in the world will help introduce large set pieces where Starkiller must run for his life rather than stop and kill a room of enemies. On the opposite side of the spectrum sits the "good guys," who are wary of Starkiller's motivations and whether or not the "resurrected" warrior is a "clone on a mission" or the "genuine article."
One of the biggest aspects of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed were the light and dark side decisions players were able to make. In The Force Unleashed 2, Starkiller begins the game on the run from his former master, which would imply that the character has turned over a new leaf for good; however Blackman says there will still be a system in place for players to make their own choices.
"We want this character to evolve and have his goals change as he grows and changes. His mission in [The Force Unleashed 2] really is, at least initially, 'Let me get reunited with Juno.' Along the way he meets back up with [Rahm] Kota and other characters. His relationship with Vader is always the heart of the story, I think. The saga is Vader's saga, all six movies. We want it to feel like we're apart of that saga," Blackman confesses. "The choice between light and dark, even in the films, isn't as clear cut as, 'Do I join the Rebel Alliance or do I turn to Vader?'"
"That relationship takes some twists and turns that are pretty interesting but it doesn't necessarily mean that Starkiller is always going to be out to kill Vader or even rejoin him. We're going to, eventually, have to resolve that relationship and we take it another step forward in this game," Blackman says.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is set to release on October 26, 2010.